Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blowtorches Gone Wild: Used as Weapons, Exterminators, Defrosters and Burglary Tools

'Blowtorch Bandit' Bungles Heists

(Note blowtorch in circle in photograph. Bandit about to torch own genitals.)

Story not entirely by Brian Dakss

Different Dates

In Southern California, police say a man tried to rob two stores with a blowtorch. A surveillance tape shows one clerk fighting back with a bat.

(CBS/AP) A robber who used a blowtorch to threaten a drug store worker and a gas station clerk was being sought for the two failed heists, authorities said Friday.

The man went into a Rite-Aid store on Jan. 31 and demanded cash. He pulled a self-igniting propane torch out of a bag, lit it and pointed the 2-foot-flame at a worker, authorities said.

The clerk refused to give him money and yelled at the man, who fled.

About 15 minutes later, however, he pulled the torch on a gas station cashier.

The cashier pulled a bat from behind the counter and began to hit the robber, who fought back with the blowtorch and then ran outside.

The fight continued until he threw the torch, which missed the clerk and landed near gasoline pumps.

The clerk, Eric Piva, says, "If he'd have had a gun, I'd go another ways, ya know? I'd go, 'Here, take the money.' It's not worth it. But when he pulled out the blowtorch, I go, 'Hell, yeah. It's time for some fun!"

The bandit fled in a car occupied by a woman, minus his Xmas blowtorch. Before the couple could get away, the gasoline attendant managed to break 3 of the vehicles windows with his bat.

The station worker was not injured but had a really good time.

Authorities, who never saw the bandit, described him as a 5-foot-2, 220-pound man in his 50s or 60s. He wore a tan fishing hat.

"If you see this man, he is not armed and not considered dangerous, except to himself," said police. (cont.)

Blowtorches... blowtorches, everywhere.

Meanwhile, in other blowtorch related activities around the nation, and abroad, a man in Georgia set his own house on fire when he tried to use a blowtorch to clear out cobwebs under the eaves of the house. The house was a total loss.

And up north, in New Bedford, Mass., another deranged man decided to employ a blowtorch to melt the ice from his back porch. Instead, he too, succeeded in setting his own home on fire. Damage, which was estimated at $20 to $30 thousand, was not as extensive as in the Georgia house burning but it still was a messy affair, and led directly to the divorce of their neighbors.

And not to be outdone by the Americans, across the pond a British man used a blowtorch to break into several homes in Nottingham, from which he would steal the keys to a car parked in front and go joy-riding, after which he would set the stolen cars on fire, with his blowtorch.

He was sentenced to 3 years and 3 months for the mini crime wave.

The International Union of Plumbers and Welders issued a statement, saying: "Blowtorches don't cause fires, people do. Whenever innocent citizens can't own blowtorches, blowtorches will only be owned by criminals."

The man reading the statement to reporters was led away by two men in white uniforms.

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